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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beginning Brewery upgrades and why they are important:

At my local brew store yesterday, I was asked about upgrading to all grain brewing. The home brewer in question is relatively new to home brewing and thought all grain was the key to cheaper and better beer. While all grain is less expensive in the long run it does not necessarily make better beer. Malt extract has come a long way since the early 80s. The two things all grain brewing does are open up the choice of ingredients and give you more control. While I couldn't make brewing any cheaper for him, I outlined how to achieve better beer without the expense of moving to all grain.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter Lager Brewing

Winter Lager Brewing:
Where did the summer go? It sure got cold out pretty quickly (and this is great for home brewers). If you have read much of my previous posts you know I stress the importance of fermentation temp control.  In the heat of the summer months it is often difficult to keep the wort cool enough, but in the winter it’s much easier to keep it warm. The other reason I love the cooler months? Garage lagers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What to brew?

I have a poll running over at HomeBrewStuff that is all about what weird experiment should I brew next. Hit the link and go vote before I decide to close the poll!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Saison Season

Belgian Farmhouse Ale:  Saison Season
Over the weekend I brewed one of my most favorite styles, Belgian Saison. This is a style that is extremely difficult both in brewing and in quantifying. Why is this a difficult style? The saison was traditionally brewed after harvest time, stored over the winter months, and then served to farm hands during the spring and summer months. The sasion was brewed with whatever grains the farm grew. Barley, rye, wheat, it was all fair game. Plus, many farms did not have temperature control during fermentation and the yeast evolved to work in warmer temps.  The beer had to be big enough to last for months but also light enough to be thirst quenching in the heat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Spice Must Flow!

Pumpkin Spice Beers:

For the past few months I’ve been reading the original Dune series, by Frank Herbert. In the Dune universe everything is centered around the “spice”. It extends life, allows interstellar space travel, and is described as having a strong cinnamon flavor and aroma. Throughout the books, characters are constantly drinking spice coffee, spice beer, or eating spice laced food. I’m a huge geek so it was no surprise to anyone who knows me that I changed up my usual coffee, a light roasted breakfast blend, for a cinnamon flavored blend.

Over the weekend, I wanted to brew but couldn’t decide what. When my roommate Ted told me to brew a spice beer I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of that! In addition to Dune, my brew club is hosting a club “brewers challenge” on spice beers at the end of October, and fall is almost here which means Halloween parties and Thanksgiving dinner. How did I not think of this sooner? Pumpkin spice beer here I come!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting a little Buzzzzzzz

Coffee Porter Recipe:

It may still be hot; we are forecasted to hit almost 100 degrees tomorrow, but its time to start getting fall and winter beers ready. It is going to be cold out before you know it and you’ll want nice rich malty beers to warm up with. Porters and Stouts are great styles to experiment with adding strong flavored ingredients to, like coffee, vanilla beans, and licorice, of chocolate. This post will cover brewing with coffee.

A Barrel Full of Fun

My American Stout has finished primary fermentation and I’m getting ready to add it to the barrel that I just got. In preparation for this let’s discuss how to use and maintain a barrel.

One note before I start, if you are looking to get wood aged flavors from barrel aging, you need a new barrel or a refurbished barrel. Many local distilleries and wineries will sell their used barrels for cheap. I called around my local area and found several wineries that would part with red wine barrels for 50$ to 75$. These barrels were all refurbished, and ready to go. Refurbished means cleaned, possibly shaved staves, and charred. Refurbished barrels have some wood flavor to impart due to the charring, but can have thinner staves, will be more oxygen permeable and won’t impart as much wood flavor as a new barrel; they may also still have flavors of the previous liquid they held, like red wine. Used barrels are a great option for sour beer. Once I extract all the oak flavor out of my barrel I will be turning it into a sour barrel.